Following last year’s closure due to the COVID crisis the Army@thefringe Venue, at Hepburn House Reserve Centre, East Claremont Street, Edinburgh has been able to reopen and join in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe experience. Soldiers from 6th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland and Cadets from Scottish University Officer Training Corps have been helping to run the venue.
This year’s programme has explored everything from the tales of Gorbals folk heroes, the experiences of a Pakistani family arriving in 60s Scotland and a dramatic escape from the Soviet Bloc to a magic show inspired by the tricks which fooled the smartest minds and a variety show packed with comedy, music and fun. Ticket sales were healthy with some acts having to put on additional days to keep up with demand.
I love the arts and I love the Fringe so, after the year we’ve all had I am pleased that the Army has been making a small contribution to helping the performing arts, and the Fringe, to recover. Brigadier Wrench, Commander 51st Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Scotland
This year has seen Brigadier Wrench, the new Commander 51st Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Scotland, renew his links to the performing arts, and the Fringe.
He said: “While I was studying at Edinburgh University I was part of the Savoy Opera Club, performing and working backstage – it gave me a real insight into the sheer skill, talent and determination that are needed in the performing arts. And that’s something we’ve seen so much at this year’s Fringe.
“It’s been so impressive to see what the performers, and the backstage teams, have achieved at Army@TheFringe. Making a return to the stage after so long in lockdown is very demanding.
“I love the arts and I love the Fringe so, after the year we’ve all had I am pleased that the Army has been making a small contribution to helping the performing arts, and the Fringe, to recover."
The Army@thefringe Venue has been running since 2017 and has hosted a range of high profile shows such as Five Soldiers, The Troth and Dead Equal. This year marks a return to physical shows after last year’s online only event due to the COVID pandemic. In the five years it has been running it has offered a chance for a range of performers, from those with works related to the military to connections to the local community and other focuses, to put on their shows. One of the highlights has been the regular panel discussion following military-related shows where military and arts professionals have been able to discuss experiences and share understandings with each other and the audience.
The venue has made strenuous efforts to comply with current COVID restrictions. Experience gained during their support to the fight against COVID has allowed the military staff who ran the venue to devise efficient and safe ways to enjoy the Fringe. The East Claremont Street venue in Edinburgh’s New Town has been configured with a computer-modelled ventilation system, a covered outdoors reception area with sanitisation stations, socially-distanced seating with reduced numbers and one-way traffic flow, a track and trace system, and an intensive cleaning programme between performances.